Like a lot of Tacoma institutions, Art on the Ave has morphed over the years. It’s hosted giant fabric art installations and an octopus road mural. It’s seen graffiti art and skateboard tricks. Amid the constant crafts vendors, dunk-the-mayor and live music acts, there have been fashion shows, films, pet parades, pogo-sticks and art car shows.
But for its 14th year, the festival – held on Sixth Avenue this Sunday – goes for high taste, offering the Museum of Glass Mobile Hot Shop making live glass art, a “grub crawl” of small food items from Sixth Avenue restaurants, and an unconfirmed performance by Tacoma’s own Vicci Martinez, who made a name for herself last year competing on TV’s “The Voice.” UPDATE: We've learned Martinez is not expected to appear this year.
Whether the singer will actually perform has yet to be announced, but she’s played the festival many times in the past, including last year, when her performance wasn’t announced until the day of the festival. The Tacoma native still is a local supporter, despite a schedule that’s grown out of local bars to national gigs.
“This was her start, here and Jazzbones,” says festival promotion chairman Nick Fediay.
Other live music on the five stages – one more than last year – includes Perry Acker, Not From Brooklyn and The Revengers, along with Jim Valley, magician Mr. Mario, and The Fun Police on the family stage.
The grub crawl will feature restaurants such as Asado, Masa, Crown Bar, Red Hot and It’s Amore, which will supply small items priced between $1 and $7 each to create a trail of snacks that stretches the length of the festival and ranges in cuisine from quail to pizza. But it’s not just festival-goers who’ll be doing the crawl: A judging panel that includes city manager T.C. Broadnax and several council members will be comparing items before announcing a winner.
“We’re trying to showcase our restaurants and make it affordable,” Fediay said. “It’s like a Taste of Sixth Avenue.”
Finally, the art part of Art on the Ave will get a museum-quality boost with the appearance of the Mobile Hot Shop. The truck containing furnaces, two glassblowers and an emcee was begun by the museum several years ago as an outreach and educational tool for schools, and while it still regularly visits students, it also has been to Seattle’s Bumbershoot, the Proctor Arts Fest, and interstate festivals. This is its first time at Art on the Ave.
“It’s a mini model of the real Hot Shop experience,” said museum director Susan Warner. “It’s a wonderful marketing tool, and it allows us to access people who perhaps don’t get to the museum.”
The truck’s appearance at Art on the Ave dovetails with Warner’s new goal for the museum, which is to reach younger audiences. The Mobile Hot Shop will be at the festival all day opposite Engine House No. 9 on North Pine Street.
The all-day festival – extended by two hours from last year – also includes more than 90 artisan vendor booths, six vintage and classic cars from LeMay-America’s Car Museum, and kid-friendly activities such as face painting and hoops near the family stage.
“Last year, we got between 13,000-15,000 – a record crowd,” Fediay said. “We’re hoping to extend those numbers this year.”rosemary.ponnekanti@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8568 blog.thenewstribune.com/arts